This is a story about a woman who might not call herself an artist in the same way others have claimed their inner artistry from childhood. She did not grow up dreaming of being a children’s book author. She did not necessarily feel the calling in her life to write until her hands couldn’t write anymore. However, her work ethic was cultivated from a young age. She learned about perseverance and determination early.
Gale Glover is from Flint, Michigan. Flint has this wonderful reputation for teaching people how to fight for what they want, because Flint is not an easy city. It does not carry the white picket fence label. Although people can build a white picket fence, if they wish, they have to keep the fence up. They might have to change the color or paint it white every year due to environmental conditions – rough weather, rough circumstances and rough times.
Over the last few years I have watched Gale in the work environment stay late and catch up on work while also going to school, because that’s what people do when they want to accomplish something specific. She explained she grew up poor in a single-parent household. One mother and no father. She started working when she was 14 years old. At age 17 she skipped school and worked three jobs. The next year she moved out of her mom’s home. A few years later she ended up in a physically and verbally abusive relationship. The details sounded like a Lifetime movie. She dealt with the stalking and hiding from someone, being beat up numerous times, and jumping off a two-story house to escape to safety. Gale explained that it is easy for people to say, “Just leave. End the relationship.” But it is not easy. In her early 20’s, when this occurred, she wasn’t aware of the available resources for battered women. She did not know about YWCA or the National Domestic Hotline. She shared that even now it is a journey, because she is still learning what it means to be in healthy viable relationships that empower her.
We talked briefly about the importance of knowing what resources are available to those who have experienced abuse. The statistics on violence against women are alarming. She told me, “It is important for kids not to go through what I went through. That is why I work so hard.” One of her goals is to write an autobiography about her experiences. “I want women to know they can survive. We are survivors. We can get through anything. Knowledge is the key. If we know the resources, then we can get help.”
It is no coincidence that her degrees are linked to her experiences. She received her degrees from University of Michigan-Flint. She triple majored and received a B.A. in Criminal Justice, Sociology and Africana Studies. She then completed a Masters in Public Administration. Presently, she is in a Post-Master’s Education Specialist Program. But her studies and experiences are more poignant. One of the key reasons for her pursuing these studies is also linked to her daughter. Gale has a maternal spirit. At one point in her life she had five children living with her (not biological). Her home was a safe space for youth to develop. One of the children is her daughter, Alicia. Due to a number of circumstances her daughter faced, Gale gained custody when Alicia was a young teenager. She shared, “When I got my daughter she was struggling through school. She had bad grades in middle and high school. In helping her excel I had to ask myself, how can I tell her to go to college if I haven’t done so myself? So because of this, I went to school. I went from being a single person with no kids to a single parent going to school full time and working full time.”
She also shared that at one point they ended up taking a class together. Excitedly, her daughter, Alicia, is graduating with her Masters in Health Education, May 2016.
All of these life experiences lead to Gale’s children’s book series. She started writing the Reach Higher Ed series in 2013. The purpose in creating the series is to educate kids through the literary arts. The books are learning tools that introduce them to higher education. She explained the series is not only for kids. It’s also for their parents.
The first book introduces them to higher education and encourages them to reach for their goals. This book includes 10 tips for being successful in college. It also has a glossary of academic terms. The second book is the activity and coloring book. She is presently working on Reach Higher Ed Learning Our Degrees. This third book introduces kids to the different programs like biochemistry, astrology and astronomy, as well as professions that kids can pursue like being a teacher or doctor.
This led me to ask Gale about her own bucket list. She wants to pursue a Doctorate in Education and start her own organization to help kids reach their highest potential. Moreover, she wants to do this in Flint, Michigan. She’s a die-hard supporter and fan of her city. She is the essence of the phrase, “Bloom where you are planted.”
When I think of Gale, I think of my own dreams as a writer and traveler. I am reminded through her that it takes work. When times are rough, I have to put on thick skin and keep going. This is why I chose Gale as the feature for March, because I notice her efforts. She does her work with a smile. Between pursuing this Post-Master’s degree, she is the Administrative Assistant in the Communication and Visual Arts Department at University of Michigan-Flint; She is the Marketing Editor for Qua, the University’s literary magazine; And she is a writer. She is blossoming where she has been planted. She is the fruit of her own labor. She is Gale Glover, a work of art always progressing to the next thing to support a generation following her lead.
She is a great reminder that this is blooming season. Spring!
Domestic Violence Statistics:
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The Phoenix Rising Collective’s Artist Feature, curated by Traci Currie, interviews women artists who use their talents and creativity to fully express self-love, build self-esteem, and nurture their own authenticity while inspiring others. Creative expressions may range from performing to painting to writing to travel and everything in between. Our goal is to share how these empowered women cultivate agency, healing, and happiness through fulfilling their passion.
Traci Currie is a Communication and Visual Arts lecturer at University of Michigan-Flint, as well as a knit-crochet artist, writer, and spoken word performer. She has been a part of the art world for over 15 years as an art gallery board member; spoken word series organizer; performer, nationally and internationally; and published poet. She believes The PRC will help women reach their highest potential. “The Phoenix Rising Collective is about empowering women to take ownership of their lives, claim their identities and be the positive change they wish to see in the world they live.” Read her latest posts. You can learn more about Traci’s work in creative arts HERE.